Question asked on Quora last week ‘Where are the best scuba diving sites in the Maldives?’
I turned to my two trusty Maldives diving resources…
- Tim Godfrey’s ‘Dive Maldives’
- Sam Harwood and Rob Bryning’s ‘Complete Guide to Diving and Snorkelling the Maldives’
Godfrey uses a 4-star rating system where only 4 dive sites out of the nearly 300 he reviewed got the top mark…
- Kandooma Thila, South Male
- Ukulhas Thila, North Ari
- Miyaruga Thila, North Ari
- Kudarah Thila, South Ari
Harwood and Bryning are more liberal with their 5-star rating giving 14 dive sites the full marks out of a similar number reviewed.
To no surprise, one can start by looking at the Ari atoll. Three of Godfrey’s four tops are there as are 4 for Harwood and Bryning. The other atoll mentioned by Godfrey is Male and Harwood and Bryning cite 6 in Male atoll (North and South). But I’m weighting Godfrey more because he is being more selective with his top gradings. Furthermore, the Ari atoll has a generally distinctive reputation as being the top atoll for diving in the Maldives. It is the most renowned area for whale sharks in the plankton bloom seasons. Finally, the Male spots are quite spread out, but the two North Ari sites are both very close to each other which secures it.
Godfrey describes Miyaruga, “The landscape is stunning and divers can easily circle the reef in one dive if the current permits…Much of the thila is undercut with caves and the surface is coated in soft coral and colourful sponges.”
Actually, three resorts – Gangehi, Nika and Velidhu – lie close to both these resorts, but mathematically, Nika is the absolutely closest.
Disclaimer – Obviously, ‘the best’ diving is subjective at best. Do many variations of taste and interpretation. Also conditions will vary considerably season to season as well as day to day. A normally mundane area could come alive during certain periods and conditions. Furthermore, the grading system of stars is crude at best. Finally, a number of atoll where there are fewer resorts are not covered at all in these books. This post simply tries to distil some of the basic research and assessment that has been done on the Maldives to date.
Interesting post, a good starting point for novice to diving in the Maldives.
But do the quoted books compare Ari with the southern atolls which have been open to divers for very few years…?
Good point, Adrian. I'm waiting for someone to propose a new 'best' spot though.